Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Tourism and BPO a good mix - say BPO stakeholders

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Major stakeholders in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector have restated their predictions that the industry will, in the very near future, surpass tourism as Jamaica's largest provider of jobs.

The point was raised by Davon Crump, CEO of Global Outsourcing Solutions, during last week's Gleaner Editors' Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, which looked at sustainability of the Montego Bay Freezone.

"I want to say that I see the future (of BPO) as being bright ... I see growth continuing. People are now recognising that Jamaica is the place to outsource, because we are very talented; we have a very talented group of employees here," said Crump. "I believe it ... we are seeing growth and I believe that this is something that will be continued."

"I have said it before and I got beaten down for saying it, but I see the BPO sector surpassing the tourism sector," Crump continued, referring to his statements made last November, which were brushed aside by some major tourism players.

100 per cent growth

Crump was supported by Odetta Rockhead, the country manager of the world-renowned Sutherland Global Services. She suggested that tourism interests support the BPO sector, as not only was it rapidly boosting the employment rate in the island, but was also contributing to the room count and growth of the tourism industry, noting that Jamaica was a place of choice for overseas BPO clients.

"Every client that has visited Sutherland Jamaica since we started two and a half years ago - every single one - closed, invested and launched here. That's how attractive Jamaica is, so let the numbers speak for themselves. It is 100 per cent closed rate," said Rockhead. "Second, we grew by 1,000 employees per year. We (Sutherland) are 2,000 employees in two years. Which other industry is growing that fast? Absolutely none."

"Instead of tourism stakeholders having a challenge with the point, what they should look at is the fact that every month at least 50 (BPO) knowledge-transfer experts or clients are staying in their hotels because the BPO industry is here," continued Rockhead. "So, how about figuring out a way to encourage the presence of the industry; realising the benefits that will fall onto them and realising that there is no other industry that has the potential to grow the country a thousand employees per year at a time? And most important, it is recession-proof; whenever there is a recession in the US, people outsource."

Last week, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller also praised the BPO sector during her address at the annual Jamaica Investment Forum in Montego Bay. She said the sector has had a positive impact on curtailing youth unemployment in the country, employing more than 17,000 people, up from 12,000 in 2012; and had also increased its earnings from $300 million in 2012 to $500 million in 2015 - a growth of 66 per cent.